Acupressure for Pain and Headaches

Share
Time to Read: About 2 minutes

This information explains how to use acupressure (AK-yoo-PREH-sher) to help with pain and headaches.

Acupressure is a kind of massage. It is based on the traditional Chinese medicine practice of acupuncture (AK-yoo-PUNK-cher). With acupressure, you put pressure on certain places on your body. These places are called acupoints (AK-yoo-poynts).

Pressing these acupoints can help your muscles relax and improve your blood flow. It can also help with many common side effects of chemotherapy, such as pain and headaches.

You can do acupressure at home by using your fingers to put pressure on different acupoints. Watch this video or follow the steps below to learn how to do acupressure.

This video will show you how to perform acupressure for headaches and generalized pain.
Video Details
 

Pressure Point LI-4 (Hegu)

Pressure point LI-4 is also called Hegu (her-goo). It is found on the back of your hand. It is between the base of your thumb and index (pointer) finger (see Figure 1). Doing acupressure on this point can help with pain and headaches.

"Figure 1. Pressure point LI-4 on back of hand"

Figure 1. Pressure point LI-4 on back of hand

Do not do acupressure on this point if:

  • You’re pregnant. Pressing on this point can make you go into labor.
  • The skin at or near the point is peeling or blistering.
  • There is an open wound at or near the point.
  • There is a rash at or near the point.
  • There is redness, swelling, warmth, or pus at or near the point.

How to find pressure point LI-4

To find pressure point LI-4:

  1. Position your hand so that your fingers are pointing up and the back of your hand is facing you.
  2. Place the thumb of your other hand in the space between your thumb and index finger (see Figure 2). This is pressure point LI-4. If you have trouble finding it, squeeze your thumb and index finger together. This creates a slight bulge in the muscle between these fingers. The pressure point is at the highest point of the bulge (see Figure 3).
    • Once you have found the pressure point, you can relax your hand and keep it in a comfortable position.
Figure 2. Finding the space between thumb and index finger

Figure 2. Finding the space between thumb and index finger

"Figure 3. Finding the highest point of the muscle bulge"

Figure 3. Finding the highest point of the muscle bulge

  1. Press down on this point with your thumb. Move your thumb in a circle while applying pressure. You can move it in clockwise (to the right) or counterclockwise (to the left) circles. Do this for 2 to 3 minutes.
    • Some people may find it hard to use their thumb. You can use a pencil eraser instead.
    • Be firm when applying pressure, but do not press so hard that it hurts. You may feel some aching or tenderness, but it should not be painful. If you feel any pain, you’re pressing down too hard.
  2. Repeat steps 1 to 3 on your other hand.

You can do acupressure on this point a few times a day until your symptoms improve.

Acupressure is a complementary therapy. Complementary therapies are treatments you can use along with your cancer treatments. They can help ease your symptoms.

To learn about other complementary therapies, call MSK’s Integrative Medicine Service at 646-449-1010 or visit www.mskcc.org/integrativemedicine.

Tell us what you think

Tell us what you think

Your feedback will help us improve the educational information we provide. Your care team cannot see anything you write on this feedback form. Please do not use it to ask about your care. If you have questions about your care, contact your healthcare provider.

While we read all feedback, we cannot answer any questions. Please do not write your name or any personal information on this feedback form.

Questions Yes Somewhat No

Last Updated